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Central Community College students climb 400-foot wind turbine

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 8:23 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Central Community College students got some hands-on experience climbing up a 400-foot wind turbine Tuesday. Students involved in the energy technology program are taught about wind, solar and battery storage energy at the Hastings campus. For the wind portion of their learning, they are required to make the climb.

Nine students took the journey up the tower Tuesday to test their skills. The wind turbine was installed at Hastings CCC in 2015 and runs power to the entirety of the campus. With the turbine, students are able to experience what they would when out in the field. Taylor Schneider, energy technology instructor at CCC, said providing students with these real-life scenarios were important.

“They get to see everything: the gear box, the generator, the top box — everything this tower runs off of. It gives them the chance to deep dive in,” Schneider said. “At any point, I told the students, that if we’re up in the tower and they need to stop and ask question like, ‘Hey what’s this do?’ or, it gives us time to open it up.”

Three weeks prior to this climb, Schneider said first-year students had their initial climb test. He added, in one year’s time, each student climbs up the tower about 11 times.

During the trip up and down multiple sets of ladders, students wore gloves, a hard hat and a harness that attached to a cable, protecting them from a fall.

“Everybody wants to quit once they get about midway, and they’re like ‘Oh, I don’t think I can get through this,’ but I’m telling you right now, you push through it, BAM, we get to the top; It’s worth it,” Schneider said.

Loki McGregor, an energy technology student at CCC, said they were taking their fourth trip to the top of the wind turbine. During the journey upwards, McGregor reminded the other students the importance of staying safe.

“Without that kind of experience, especially this being hands-on sort of schooling, they wouldn’t be prepared,” McGregor said, regarding those involved in the energy technology program. “They’d be out in the field and probably get hired and they’d be, ‘What, no one told me about this.’”

Next, Schneider said the students were planning to take a trip to Wisconsin to earn their national certificates in tower rescue and confined space.

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